Action and Outreach


Wellies for fishermen - read here.


Three documents from Linda Benneworth reflecting the 'Away from it All' holidays this year. - here, and here, and here


May 2021 efforts from Action and Outreach; 

Fresh Start backpacks  and   support for vulnerable families


Action and Outreach continues despite lockdown restrictions - as illustrated in these items from Linda Benneworth

Blankets thankfully received. click here

It's always nice to get a Thank You! click here for news from the prison.

This one intriguingly entitled unmuted 

and also ...................

Helping vulnerable women during lockdown February2021.

I was delighted that Mothers union was able to take gift bags full of treats for women in refuges and hostels over Christmas. We know that these are great moral booster and help raise self-esteem. Since then, we have continued to try and help in practical ways

At the request of Northumberland Domestic Abuse Service £200 was donated to assist in buying carpets for a client who had been rehoused and a similar amount given to the North Northumberland refuge for a carpet for a client who was rehoused. Money has been set aside to pay for outdoor play equipment for one refuge. We hope we will be able to provide Away from it All  holidays soon,   but in the meantime  extra play equipment should help with families as the warmer weather comes .   Linda Benneworth

Freshstart  backpacks for prisoners February 2021

Norma Willmott is still taking backpacks for some of the prisoners who are released from prison in Acklington.  The problem for these prisoners is that they may have nowhere to go after discharge,and, if they are banned by the courts to return to their previous location, they may be leaving with virtually nothing and not knowing where they will find accommodation (perhaps a hostel).  This situation is much worse on a Friday or weekend, as by the time they reach their destination the probation and/or social security offices may be closed.  MU were asked to help this relatively small group by providing them with a backpack containing a change of clothes and basic toiletries to tide them over until they get help at their destination.  The pack itself is important, as all they are given by the prison is a black plastic sack.  Typically, each pack will contain underwear, T-shirt and jogging pants as well as soap, shampoo, towel, deodorant, shaving gel, toothpaste and toothbrush.  Whilst lockdown has made the usual collection of items to go in the backpacks very difficult, Norma has still managed to buy and fill the packs using cash donated by MU members.  This year Norma has provided 18 packs for the prison.  On behalf of the newly released prisoners, thank you.  Norma

Here is the list of the most needed things for the backpacks:  Hand towels and face cloths,  Shower gel and soap,  Shaving gel or foam,  Deodorant, Shampoo, Tooth paste and brushes, Boxers, T-shirts, Black jogging pants (NOT grey as that is what they wear in prison!). Linda Benneworth, February 2021.


and read about  -  Peoples Kitchen support here 

The Fishermen’s Mission in North Shields

 Even though we can’ t meet up,  it is wonderful to learn that our members are still helping to support vulnerable groups throughout the lockdown.  At Christmas,  Margaret Crawforth took  warm thermal hats and biscuits for the fishermen at the fishermen’s mission in North Shields. Since then we have heard of the hardship faced by the families of local fishermen. The centre itself is also in need of a tumble drier to help the overseas fishermen as they come to use the facilities at the centre. Generous donations from Mothers’ Union members will allow a new tumble drier to be bought and some supplies bought for the fishermen’s families as the need arises. Linda Benneworth



M.U. members make a wall-hanging

Ten Mothers’ Union embroiderers, under the guidance of Hilary Fielding, have created the wall hanging seen in the picture, with each member embroidering one flower.  The completed hanging, made of lilac silk, will be installed in St. Paul’s Church, Seaton Sluice, in the parish of Delaval - once we are able to hold a service there. 

It is to commemorate the life of Margot Watkins, whose husband, Bob, was at one time Vicar of Delaval  Parish, where Margot was also a very committed Mothers’ Union member.  Margot loved spring flowers, so the hanging perfectly reflects her interest – both in spring flowers and in Mothers’ Union’s work with women and families.

A generous bequest from Margot has helped us in our work with women from the Changing Lives hostels, with whom we have run craft classes, pamper days and retreats, helping to give the women a sense of self-worth. 

Thanks to all those who took part, and especially to Hilary Fielding, who embroidered the script and designed and completed the beautiful hanging.   Barbara Packer



A warmer Christmas - to add to the Shoebox Day donations!


St John’s Whorlton MU had their first proper meeting on Wednesday 7th October and we had a Eucharist in church thanks to our Vicar Rev Matthew Hunter. There were about a dozen of us all socially distanced as per the guidelines.  Normally we would have a service with guests followed by tea in October.
At the beginning of lockdown I asked for knitted squares and a friend, suggested to her friend who was not good mentally, and she responded and it gave her a purpose. A member took on the task of crocheting them into blankets after sorting them into colour match. She was helped by a church friend who did a couple. During our service Matthew blessed 9 blankets, the fruits of their labour, one made by another member Pam.  Our Anna Chaplain Anne Morris will distribute them with a member when lockdown eases.

It was so good to be able to worship together as a Branch and appreciate each other through our worship – we waited a long time…..            Anne Blight  Branch Leader  


From Linda Benneworth - September 2020

Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking.     Click on the full report here

Suzette Jones, Development Officer 2020 works with those hoping to end modern slavery. She hopes that at Mothers Union we can help her cause’

  So as Mothers’ Union Members, what can we do?

 ·       Take out your mobile phones and put the Modern Slavery Helpline in now!  08000121700; For concerns about labour exploitation The Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority on 08004320804 

When you see something, when you know the situation is not right, all you need to do is telephone, tell of your intuition –if it does not feel right it, it probably isn’t.

Want to remain anonymous? Call Crimestoppers on 0800555111

In an emergency 999

·       Put up a poster in your church, church hall, workplace, community centre

·       Download the Safe Car Wash and the Farm Welfare Apps

·       Go on The Clewer web page and find out more

·       Talk, tell your children, your grandchildren of today’s slaves, the 136,00 living in our communities

·       And last, but not least – prayer, pray for the trafficked, pray for the enslaved,

Pray for those working day & night to rescue and support victims.

Pray that we see the unseen.  


Update July 2020

We do not know when we will be able to offer craft sessions to women at "Walking With" "Changing Lives and the women's refuges. When we can,   we are now able to offer  an even greater  range of  resources. Extremely generous donations like the one from Jen Merritt of Bardon Mill will help the ladies learn more about beading and will provide the materials needed to create  original pieces. We are extremely grateful to Jen and look forward to seeing the finished  work.

 On behalf of all the ladies, thank you Jen"



AFIA breaks June 2020

For those in refuges the past weeks in lockdown have been especially difficult. Now we are coming out of lockdown it is wonderful to be able to offer these families who are “really fed up” AFIA breaks. Margaret Crawforth has been working very hard with the refuges, caravan parks and other agencies to help provide holidays for vulnerable families. Several of these holidays are different from last year as indeed they have to be but the aim is to salvage something during this summer to help create good lasting memories for as many people as possible.Two ladies have been accepted for a supported break at Shepherds’ Dene. One refuge plans to share a caravan stay between 14 families;the refuge will use two caravans and each family will stay for 2 nights. The refuge hopes these short breaks will improve the wellbeing of those who have had a difficult few months.




The work of Action and Outreach goes on despite the Corona virus situation.These Easter Eggs were given to the Refuge over Easter, and were very gratefully received.



Celebrating Women's World Day of Prayer with a difference


Check this out;  What Action and Outreach have achieved ; a great résumé of the work of Action and Outreach!


International day to end violence against sex workers -      supported by Mothers' Union


A trip on the Santa Train Saturday December 14th 2019.

The kindness and generosity of Mother’s Union members allowed children from our local refuge and a local estate to travel on the Santa Train leaving from the Stephenson Museum on North Tyneside. Before boarding the train, they had the opportunity to get some magic reindeer food, try some quizzes and enjoy some craft activities in the museum. On the train they listened to stories told by staff members (one dressed as a Victorian lady, one as an elf) and heard carols played by local musicians. The highlight of the trip had to be meeting Santa when he boarded the train at the “East Pole”.  Each child was given a gift in a festive bag with their name on, by Santa himself. On returning to the museum there was juice and a gingerbread man for the children and tea or coffee and a mince pie for the adults. The cold crisp bright weather made adults and children alike think that “It was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.” On behalf of the children, and the adults who travelled with them, I would like to thank again all our very generous members who made thispossible.

Linda Benneworth, Action and Outreach Coordinator



Mine Youth Families Getaway  November 2019   -  see this report on a getaway supported by funding from Mothers' Union



On Saturday 26th October at the MU Members Day, backpacks to be given to prisoners as they are released from prison to a hostel were handed over to Mrs Norma Willmott.  Norma is a volunteer at the Family Support Centre at HMP Northumberland.

Photo from left to right: Sheila Walker, Barbara Packer, Norma Willmott, Linda Benneworth and Joan Howard.


Supporting Walking With in Wallsend

Walking with was set up 19 years ago in Wallsend  to  welcome  befriend and support  refugees , asylum seekers  and others in need  in the local and wider community. Mothers  Union has supported this project by donating food and clothes to the people who call in at the centre in Wallsend.

We have helped pay for the Christmas parties , given shoe boxes full of useful things at Christmas paid for outings to the cinema and local pantomime We have provided away days  and given the children eggs for Easter.

We have developed some new projects this year. We were asked by the manager to donate bicycles which could be repaired by the young men helped by a volunteer cycle repair man.  Some of our generous members were happy to oblige.

One kind and skilled member, Ann Gordon made some beautiful scarves to give to the ladies as presents for Eid. These were happily received with one young man taking a scarf for his sister.




Supporting “Walking With “ in Wallsend Summer 2019

This year the centre has been providing lunches for children who could suffer from holiday hunger when they are not able to get free school lunches. We were asked if we could provide interesting and enjoyable activities for the children to do before they have their lunch. So far the children have been able to make masks decorate picture frames , make book marks and dress paper dolls, along with  dream catchers  and friendship bracelets.

Last year families were taken to Adventure valley. This year they have chosen to go to the beach at South Shields

 Linda Benneworth




On July 30thfamilies from Harbour Refuge visited Adventure Valley. There were 18 adults, thirty children and one baby.

  It was good to see the groups enjoying themselves and when we asked what they liked about the day, they said the following;

“It’s great and so big, every time you turn a corner there is something new.”

“It’s all just so nice and we’ve had such a rough time recently. We are really grateful to have the opportunity to come out for the day.”

“It’s lovely to be able to sit and chat with the other mums with no stress. It is so great for the children to have the freedom to explore the whole site in their own time and we know that “

“The children can follow their own interests and try out lots of new activities. They can choose what they want to do and for most rides there is no charge.”

 One young mother from the refuge said “It was lovely to meet up with someone who I met on the support course. We are going to keep being friends. I’m sure we will help each other with our progress. The children were able to play with each other. It was great.”

“I have never seen a guinea pig race, it was brilliant”

 Even though there was some rain during the day there were plenty of activities, indoor and out to keep the children entertained.

My thanks to all Mothers Union members whose generosity made this possible. Linda Benneworth


                                    guinea pig racing!


 One very generous Mothers Union member donated several boxes of craft materials to be used in the craft sessions which we run for a variety of groups. Sylvia Rudge an MU member from Ovingham donated  all sorts of wonderful craft making  materials and equipment.


These will be used to help the jewellery making sessions with the women from Changing Lives and “Walking With”. The card materials will be used at the White ribbon craft session along with the sessions at Changing Lives. Women and children at” Walking With” will also use these in the craft making sessions. It is hoped to use the embroidery threads in the quilt which is being made as a memorial to Margot Watkins by Hilary Fielding’s group of embroiderers . Linda Benneworth


May 2019 update

Thank you for “Fresh Start” backpacks for newly released prisoners from Acklington

This spring I had a further request from Norma Wilmott on behalf of those prisoners about to be released from Acklington prison.  A shortage of packs could have resulted in prisoners being released without one and its much valued contents.  Word of the need soon spread to the branches and we have been delighted and humbled by the magnificent response from members.  There are too many branches to name individually; you know who you are and I send you sincerest thanks.  The photos show our Diocesan President, Barbara Packer, with some backpacks donated by members of the congregation of St. Peter, Monkseaton and members from St Mary’s Monkseaton with their donation.  One interesting piece of advice which I received recently was from a former chaplain of Strangeways prison Manchester who wrote: “May I suggest that you change the type of pack you offer from time to time?  If you don't, the packs and their owners will soon be recognised as having come from HMP Northumberland.”

As the photographs show we use a wide variety of makes and sizes of pack.

It’s good to know that we are doing the correct thing and helping young ex-convicts to have a fresh start.

Linda Benneworth





April 2019 - “A celebration of mothers”

 This year our diocese supported a craft afternoon as part of  a celebration of motherhood. The event which was held in the Brunswick Hall was to support clients from Changing Lives , through their Girls are Proud initiative  and NIDAS      ( Women s intensive support). The afternoon provided the opportunity for the women to make cards, bracelets  and earrings  and dream catchers. Whilst working there was ample opportunity  for the women to talk to each other and  to .the Mothers Union volunteers. Refreshments were also provided .

Each woman was able to take away something which she had made and which was something of which she could be proud. 


December 2018 Visits to the care and dementia homes to take gifts from Mother’s Union as seen in the pictures

Linda and Margaret took a large bag of twiddle muffs one activity apron some hats and blankets to residents at Prices Court along with a tin of biscuits to wish the staff and residents a merry Christmas.

Residents at Eothen court also had a visit . Here hats ,muffs blankets and activity apron and a tin of biscuits were given out from Mothers Union. Last year we had been told that some of the ladies like to cuddle their 'babies', so this year we included a new 'baby' for Annie to look after

Giving a twiddle muff to a resident at Princes Court. Trying on a new hat

One lady shows us how she plans to use the apron for her craft work.

Staff model the aprons, hats and one of the blankets. Margaret is looking after the 'baby' until we give it to Annie.


At both homes it was a delight to see how much joy and fun were  to be  seen in the lead up to Christmas.


Christmas 2018.

Diocesan vice president Sylvia Hickey delivered thirty ladies gift bags to the hostels for vulnerable women in Newcastle.  The bags contained a small piece of jewellery, brightly coloured scarves, toiletries, nail varnish and some luxury chocolate.  Each bag also had a Christmas card addressed to a friend, all designed to make the recipient feel valued and special.  Fifteen bags were provided by M.U. Ponteland branch and fifteen by the new "Young Mums" group at the Coast,

Handing the bags over at the hostel


Supporting “Streetwise”

In November, Mothers’ Union received a request for help from“Streetwise”.They asked if we could support their campaign to help young people who use their services in the centre of Newcastlefor emotional wellbeing and mental health support..  They help young people between the ages of 11 and 25, most of whom live at home, but not all.

Staffat “Streetwise” told us that many young people who visit themare too proud to ask for help from the foodbanks,so they often go without basics.  Theyhave launched a campaign to provide free hats, gloves and sanitary products for young people who access the services.They have also set up a “coffee bar” in the foyer to provide activities and refreshments for the young people who call infor help.

This Christmas they are planning to help the homeless young people who go to the centre. There are about forty of these.  Generous donations from Mothers’ Union members have allowed me to take hats, scarves and gloves (some in smaller sizes) to be given out to those who need them.  I also took toiletries and old fashioned games such as dominoes andplaying cards. Members also donated boxes of biscuits.Through this support, Mothers’ Union members are providing small Christmas treats for many young people in Newcastle who will experience loneliness and hunger over the Christmas period.   Linda Benneworth December 2018


White Ribbon Day, Monday November  26th 2018.

The Mothers’ Union of Newcastle Diocese supported “Changing Lives”at  an event to raise awareness of  abuse by men on women . This event was organised by  Sarah Charlton (the intensive supportworker at Changing Lives and NIDAS). NIDAS   is the integrated domestic abuse service in Newcastle. It consists of a women’s refuge,a group of outreach workers and children’s workers. They offer a 24 hour support line and the IDVA team are based there.  The  Independent Domestic Violence Advisors  work with high risk victims who are at risk of being seriously harmed or murdered. Women’s Intensive Support is also based in with the IDVA team. They support high risk victims who also have multiple and complex needs.

The event in the Brunswick Hall in the centre of Newcastle was planned as an interesting afternoon of activities for clients and their support workers. Volunteers from Mothers’ Union ran a jewellery making stall and a quilting session and spent time just chatting to the clients. All attendees had the chance to make a white flower and to wear a white ribbon, to promote peace and hope.There was obviously a serious note to the afternoon and a short PowerPoint presentation byIsobel Corby highlighted the problem.MU funds provided a small afternoon tea. A large cake was donated by a small business called Lucinda Thompson – Coffee on the Corner and it added to the positive party atmosphere.

The Paper Flower making was led by flower artist Sally for an Art Project called “Forever in Bloom”.  The paper flowers were left and will be part of a larger exhibition. The white paper flowers are going to be displayed  at another DV event .The hope is to offer more workshops so that many more are made and exhibited in a gallery in Newcastle to raise awareness and funds for Changing lives.

The serious message and Vice president Sheila Walker enjoying making a white peace flower!

Sue Croome leading the jewellery making session and  Hilary Fielding preparing for the quilting

The Paper Flower making was led by flower artist Sally for an Art Project called “Forever in Bloom”.  The paper flowers were left and will be part of a larger exhibition. The white paper flowers are going to be displayed  at another DV event .The hope is to offer more workshops so that many more are made and exhibited in a gallery in Newcastle to raise awareness and funds for Changing lives.


 As summer ends, and  we prepare for the longer winter evenings, I wonder if any members or friends   would be prepared to make” Activity Aprons” or “Twiddle Muffs” for  those with dementia. We have received so many requests for these from residential homes.  I am happy to send further details. Please help if you can.  “Glad bags” would also be most welcome.   Thanks,  Linda Benneworth.  My email is



“Glad bags” to help dementia patients, August 2018.

Mother’s Union members were asked to give a good name for the bags we are hoping to provide to help patients with limited mobility carry small things such as handkerchiefs and spectacles on their mobility scooters or walking frames.  Pam Taylor from All Saints Gosforth branch came up with the very apt name “Glad bags” in memory of Gladys McCullough. Several branches have generouslybeen making the bags in various shapes and designs. Joan Mitchell from St Paul’sSeaton Sluice made several bags for  women with dementia which really fit the description of “Glad bags”.  Along with fellow branch member Irene Robinson, Joan took some of these down to the Eothen dementia Home in Wallsend. The photos show Joan, Irene and Terri, the home manager, looking at the very attractive bags each of which contains a small pocket for small items. The bright contrasting colours are ideal for those with poor eyesight as well as looking very cheerful.


Linda Benneworth August 2018


A visit to the holy island of Lindisfarne August 4th 2018

Mother’s Union received a request from the vicars of St Mary’s Howden and the Church of the Good Shepherd, Battle Hill to help fund a day visit to Holy Island. The aim was for the group to have time and space to appreciate their surroundings and enjoy  fellowship with the rest of the group. The day was based in the St Cuthbert Centre on the island. The centre “promotes rest and restoration of body soul and spirit.” Margaret Crawforth ,  Ursula Kopff who had come from MU headquarters in London and I joined the group and were welcomed by the resident minister there. We started the day with morning prayers and then had lots of free time to explore the island.We were able to see the priory ruins and the church as well as walk on the beach, watch the seals and sea birds. The excellent visibility allowed us to see the smaller St Cuthbert Island.  Three of the women in our group followed the pilgrimage route from the mainland on foot with Laurawalking barefoot all four miles of the route.  In addition to helping her train for the “Running Down Dementia “event, she said that the whole experience was inspirational.

The less athletic of us visited the church which was being prepared for the wedding of two islanders and were privileged to see the bride and her father walk to the church through the village and the gardens.

 A wonderful culmination of the visit was the Eucharist in the peaceful surroundings of the centre . Group members were asked to describe the impact of the visit on them. These included an awareness of the tranquillity, the sounds and sights of the seals and the opportunity to sit quietly and absorb the feelings of peace. We from Mother’s Union felt privileged to be part of this. We were also delighted to be invited to join the group in the supper of hot beef sandwiches prepared by Pat before we left the island .

Linda Benneworth


Providing play equipment for deprived children and their needy parents. August 2018

Deprived children often start school with poor linguistic and numerical skills. In order to help address some of these problems nursery groups and play groups greatly benefit from access to especially designed equipment to help the children. Such equipment is usually very expensive. It needs to be robust and comply with the strictest health and safety regulations. The cost is often beyond the ability of the groups and parents to buy. Two groups recently asked MU if we could help, and we were delighted to be able to do so. We provided a road safety scene for “Wor Bairns “on the Meadowell Estate. The traffic scenario gives many opportunities for conversation as well as developingroad safety. The local traffic warden came and worked with the children in this setting. The equipment will hopefully be used  by many groups over the coming years at the Cedarwood centre.


The new St. Mary's Park Estate currently being built near Stannington village is attracting many young families.  They are starting a new Toddler Group to help them settle, but needed play equipment:  Mothers' Union was happy to help.  The leader, Sian, said  'I want to thank you so much for funding the equipment for us, we are very grateful and it has already made such a huge difference.'  We wanted to start a baby and toddlers group as this is a new community. Not many people know each other. That, combined with the importance of supporting parents with young children to meet other parents to allow them to build local support networks, meant that starting the group a high priority for the village hall committee. The numbers attending each week are consistently high - approximately 16 a week, which is brilliant. I myself have made some new friends too!

The new play tent and tunnel has given the mobile children something to play in that they enjoy hiding in. The tables and chairs have given the children somewhere better to sit at for drawing and having their snack at than the large table and chairs that the hall has. As our numbers are higher than we thought they would be, we've saved up and bought an additional table and 4 chairs. We had chosen the slightly more expensive chairs from Ikea as they are stackable, which is essential given storage issues in the hall.



“Girls are Proud” Summer extravaganza. July27th 2018.

This summer the Changing Lives project and especially “Girls are Proud” asked if MUwould help finance a summer extravaganza  afternoon.  This was to replace the “Celebration of Motherhood” afternoon tea with craft activitieswhich MU funded last year. Their aim this year was to provide a non-threatening, and welcoming venue to encourage the women come and have the opportunity to sit and chat with the project’s support workers as well as try interesting and fun craft activities.

The venue chosen was the Scotswood Natural Community Garden which is located behind John Marley College.

The Garden has several small discrete sites with a gazebo and a small barn.  It includes akitchen with a toilet but it is essentially part of the countryside. Craft tables wereplaced in the “barn” along with the food and a range of non-alcoholic cocktails served in proper plastic martini glasses. Support workers collected participants by car so that there was no problem in getting to the location.

The aim was to allow the women to join any activity which aroused their interest

The gazebo was chosen for hair-braiding; as the group sat on blankets in in the small partially enclosed space it felt warm and welcoming and provided opportunities to chat in the sunshine.

Another small grassy area was set up for aromatherapy massages.  I was invited to try a back massage; it was very relaxing and stress reducing.

Some women had sparkles applied to their faces and others made frivolousnet tutus.  It was a lovely atmosphere. The nibbles were available in the same area.  It was all very relaxing spending an afternoon in the countryside  . As we left, lively music wasbeing played in  this area too.


Visit to Adventure Valley July 24th 2018.

On July 28th Mothers’ Union paid for a group of mothers and children from the Harbour Refuge of North Tyneside to spend the day at Adventure valley.

 Once there, families were able to try out lots of activities and rides including go carting,  a ride on a tractor and  sitting in a rubber ring on the giant slide. Other highlights included watching the goat race and also the displays of falconry. 


 It was a day of fun for families who are often subjected to great stress. We hope to repeat this next year. Thanks to all our members who helped to make it possible.


 Linda Benneworth .



A fitting memorial for Gladys McCullough


Following the death of Gladys McCullough earlier this year, it was decided by the Trustees of Mothers’ Union to make a special donation of £500 to be spent on items which had been requested by the People’s Kitchen,as a fitting memorial for her. Gladys had long been an enthusiastic supporter of the work of the kitchen.

Marylyn, the manager at the kitchen, requested sleeping bags for the winter so Dorothy Henderson, our treasurer, and I went to GO Outdoors to buy them.We had been advised to use this store because they have an arrangement with the Peoples Kitchen to store the sleeping bags on their premises until they are needed for the homeless.  This is ideal because the kitchen has very little storage space. What we didn’t know until we got there was that the store gives the People’s Kitchen a special discount. We were therefore able to buy sleeping bags priced a t£39.99 (or £29.99 for discount card holders) for £17.50 each.  This means the Mothers’Union has been able to buy 28 sleeping bags for the homeless people who use the People’s Kitchen. So thank you to Go Outdoors for their wonderful discount and thanks also to Mothers’ Union members for your continuing support.

Mothers’ Union has now got its own discount card in case we want to buy things for other projects.

Linda Benneworth.



Every month about three men are discharged from ‘the Departure Lounge’ at Acklington prison without a family to receive them.  They may go to a hostel, or may even land up on the street.  They often leave with nothing but the clothes they were wearing on entry.  Can we help them by providing a small backpack containing toiletries (including a small towel and disposable razor), together with the kind of things we put in the shoe boxes, including a change of underwear and socks?  If so, please contact me or bring them to Council on 31st March.  I can source nice inexpensive backpacks if needed. 

Look out in the next Journal for much more about this, and about other ways in which we can help prisoners.


Bags for Cumberland House

Dear Angela,


On behalf of the women in the Changing Lives project  I would like to thank you and your members for the beautiful   Christmas gifts which you donated.    I took them to the house just before Christmas and the managers were “over the moon “with them. They said that for some women this would be the only surprise present they would get, something especially for them.

 You obviously spent a lot of time, thought  and effort in assembling the  bags and as far as the women were concerned it certainly was well worth it.

Thank you and God bless,


Making Jewellery with women at from Changing Lives

The women who stay at  the Changing Lives project have diverse and complex problems in their lives.With the help of Mothers’ Union, we have provided three jewellery making sessions for the residents to give them support in a practical way through doing something that they can enjoy. Sue Croome led the sessions and encouraged and helped those attending to make a bracelet, earrings and on the third week an additional piece as a gift for someone for Christmas. Jewellery making is very therapeutic and there is a huge sense of achievement wearing something truly unique which you have made. The women seemed to really enjoy it and have asked that we provide more sessions in the spring.  The thank you notes included comments such as:

“It was a pleasure to have attended the course”  “. I found it fun and educational.”

In addition, donations from Mothers’ Union have enabled the staff to buy pyjamas or a nightie for each woman living at the project. St Peter’s Monkseaton Branch  even bought bags of toiletries and treats for them too. Their kindness will help make this Christmas a nicer one for the residents than they might otherwise have had.


A trip on the North Pole express at Tanfield Steam railway with families from changing Lives and “Wor Bairns”.

Families from Changing Lives had requested a trip on the North Pole express this year rather than a pamper day for the ladies only. Personal problems close to the day meant that some families were unable to attend. Rather than waste the spaces, on the day before we were due to go, we invited several mums and children from “Wor Bairns”, a project operating on the Meadowell estate in North Shields.  The surprise element added to the excitement of the children, some of whom were jumping up and down as we queued for the special bus which took us directly to the steam railway at Tanfield.  As we entered the waiting room,each child was given a special passport to the North Pole. This was their ticket enabling them to meet Santa Claus. Elves and fairies then escorted the group to the train which took us to “The North Pole”.  When their passports had been stamped the children and parents were taken through Santa’s workshop to meet Santa. Here each child was given a beautifully wrapped present.  Families were then taken into the café where they could enjoy complimentary refreshments before the train to take them back to Tanfield station.As the weather was cold these hot refreshments were most welcome.

It was wonderful that, through the generosity of Mothers’ Union members, the groups were able to enjoy a very special day out, meet Santa Claus, receive a gift from an elf  and relax with friends.  I also enjoyed meeting Santa for the first time in many years.

Linda Benneworth.



Underneath the arches with the People’s Kitchen, December 2017.

The People’s Kitchen Christmas party was as usual held under the arches on Trafalgar Street near the old Manors station on one of the coldest and frostiest nights of the winter. At 10pm Santa distributes the shoe boxes, donated generously by the members of Mother’s Union, from the back of a white van. This may be not as picturesque as a sleigh but the gifts are really welcomed by the homeless of Newcastle. Before then there is a wonderful street party. When President Barbara and I walked from the Metro station at Manors down a very slippery slope we could hear the music coming from the band and soon we saw the welcoming high visibility jackets of the many volunteers who were helping.

Hot food and cakes were provided along with cups of tea all free of charge to the many homeless party goers who had also braved the cold. They also had the opportunity to win a food hamper in the free raffle for which the prize tickets were drawn by the Mayor of Gateshead.  There was dancing and singing and we managed to chat to the Peoples Kitchen chaplain Pat Craighead. We enjoyed singing Christmas carols and the “Twelve days of Christmas “. The pantomime atmosphere was enhanced by the colour marking of our place in the words on the overhead projector screen.  And by the fact that we were singing alongside a giant chicken called Davy.

As we left we couldn’t help but think that as we returned to our warm homes, many at the party were homeless and would not be able to do so.



 Linda Benneworth , A and O coordinator. December 2107


Visiting“Walking With”in Wallsend, Christmas 2017

It was lunchtime when we arrived at “Walking With” In Wallsend. People were milling around excitedly as the volunteers began to serve the lunch. Margaret Crawforth and I chatted with the volunteers and those who were about to have lunch. Staff said how grateful they were for the twenty four shoe boxes which were generously donated by MU members. We managed to give out two before everyone sat down for lunch.

Mother’s Union had also donated £50 through the North Tyneside Council special fund to help pay for the food, which smelt very appetising; those I spoke to said it was delicious. Linda Benneworth


 To North Tyneside Council - On behalf of the Newcastle Diocese of the Mothers’ Union I would like to thank you for your award of a grant of £425. This allowed a group of fortynine refugees from “Walking With” based at St. Luke’s Church Wallsend to have a very enjoyable half term outing to the “Jam Jar “cinema.

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